If the name William Shakespeare alone inspires terror and flashbacks of trying to perform a scene from “Romeo and Juliet” in English class, you are not alone.
Despite some qualms and concerns about attending a play, Globe students in Introduction to Humanities were excited to take a seat in the black box theatre at Winona State University to watch “Troilus and Cressida,” a rarely-performed play, during the Great River Shakespeare Festival.
Are the Actors Speaking English?
Prior to the performance, many students wondered how Shakespeare’s version of the English language ever evolved to our modern interpretation.
“I am not familiar with Shakespearean language,” criminal justice student Dmitri Rodionov noted. Indeed, most students expressed this concern, but observing body language, characters and the set helped students understand the plot.
“Aspects of the theater that contributed to the storyline were the dramatic costumes,” Kyle Olson said. “They helped set the mood of the story because the play had a harsh tone along with raw subject matter.”
Black Box Theater
Furthermore, the stage and set of a black box theater, typically a small, basic set open to the audience on three sides, contributed to the performance.
IT student Cary Gundlach highlighted those advantages. “The set was simple,” he said. “I enjoyed that the play didn’t just cater to a single vantage point, and it was equally enjoyable from any direction you were sitting.”
Students also appreciated the talents of the actors themselves. “The actors were phenomenal,” Jenn Walters said. “I was amazed at the length of the parts they could remember.”
Shakespearean Tropes Stand the Test of Time
Other students were impressed by the themes and experience of the performance. Student Scott Koger mentioned, “This was my first play, and I was expecting to be put to sleep by the whole experience, but I can say that I really enjoyed the performance.”
Some students were surprised at the range of human emotion Shakespeare captured. “I didn’t know how well Shakespeare could blend comedy, drama and tragedy,” Adan Carrasco said. “I also noticed in the play what seems like a timeless theme, in that while love is a beautiful thing it is also very dangerous.”
IT degree student Karl Johnson noted several themes as well. “There are a few themes that are applicable within today’s society including love of course, honor, cheating on one’s significant other, war and revenge.”
After reflection on the performance, students also discussed the relevance of the theatre in our world that is often dominated by electronic entertainment.
The Relevance of Theater Continues
“I can understand the importance of plays throughout the centuries,” Emily Koresh said. “They may you think and start conversations. They bring moral and spiritual questions. I think that plays had just as much impact centuries ago as they do today.”
The opportunity to attend a play was a new one for some Globe students, but they clearly demonstrated why this experience was an important asset to their education.
“This experience has given me a different take on plays and how I look at them,” Scott Koger said. “It has helped me open my eyes to the fact that a story is being told to the audience about history, the writer’s imagination, or the writer’s interpretation of a historical event.”